NCAA

NC State was the cure for No. 18 Virginia's 4-game losing streak

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USA Today Sports

NC State was the cure for No. 18 Virginia's 4-game losing streak

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sure, No. 18 Virginia was glad to win a game for the first time in nearly three weeks.

But Saturday's 70-55 victory at North Carolina State was more about something simpler: rebuilding confidence and rhythm by making shots.

"We talked about just keep playing the defense to keep you in there," coach Tony Bennett said, "and sooner or later -- hopefully -- we'll knock down some shots, get some different kind of looks. That's what we've been talking about in all these games."

Freshman Kyle Guy scored 19 points for the Cavaliers (19-9, 9-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 49 percent and made 11 of 16 3-pointers to snap a four-game losing skid lowlighted by three particularly ugly offensive performances.

Virginia is built around defense and efficient offense, a style that grinds down opponents in slow-paced and often low-scoring games. But in the recent skid, Virginia just flat couldn't shoot and failed to crack even 56 points in the past three games.

That's why doing something as routine as knocking down a midrange jumper was a big deal Saturday.

Bennett said the team took a day off, then spent much of the ensuing practice days with a heavy emphasis on shooting and fundamentals.

It also helped that the Cavaliers were playing the Wolfpack (15-15, 4-13), whose defense is far and away the worst in the league according to KenPom's adjusted efficiency stats (108.1 points per 100 possessions).

Guy got things started with 14 points and four first-half 3s.

"I think he singlehandedly kind of got our rhythm back for us, for us shooting the ball," junior Isaiah Wilkins said. "After he got hot, a couple of other guys got hot and we felt like were back to normal."

It was Virginia's longest losing streak since dropping nine straight during Bennett's first season in 2009-10. But the Cavaliers led 35-21 by halftime, pushed that to 19 early after halftime and led by double figures nearly the entire second half.

N.C. State shot 32 percent in the final regular-season home game for coach Mark Gottfried. The school announced earlier this month that he won't return next year after a once-promising season completely unraveled.

"Our fans have been great," Gottfried said. "It has been amazing. Everywhere in town I go, it has been great. People are so positive and appreciative and all of that. I just hope we can somehow do some more positive things (in the ACC Tournament)."

The peculiar case of Georgetown’s Qudus Wahab

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The peculiar case of Georgetown’s Qudus Wahab

WASHINGTON – Qudus Wahab is quietly putting forward an impressive freshman campaign for the Georgetown Hoyas. 

He’s the second guy off the bench, primarily backing up Omer Yurtseven at the No. 5 spot in the rotation. But his usage is the best on the team. His per 40-minute average through the last five games is 27.6 points. 

What’s curious is Wahab is producing by only stepping on the court less than 12 minutes a game. Head coach Patrick Ewing isn’t getting him more playing time through his best stretch on the season. Opportunities and consistent time among the starters are limited.

The restraints on the freshman center were repeated in the team’s loss to No. 15 Butler when Omer Yurtseven failed to produce in the paint. Still, in 10 minutes of relief, Wahab had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.

The quizzical decision to keep the talented center so deep in the rotation for the Hoyas is one that has many within the fanbase dumbfounded. The team is down to only nine scholarship players and need all the production they can get. While Yurtseven has been dominant at times, he’s also inconsistent and struggled to find a rhythm in games. 

Seven times this season, Yurtseven has shot 40% from the field or lower. Wahab hasn’t had a worse shooting night when attempting more than two shots since Nov. 30. 

“To me, Omer is our best player. Qudus is very good. He’s our future,” Ewing said after Georgetown’s loss to Butler. “Some nights I want to play him more but sometimes he makes good play on one end, but I don’t see it on the other end.

“But I’m going to play the way I see it.”

Three of Wahab’s four buckets were dunks. One was a fastbreak throwdown while the other two were great feeds to him in the post. His 10 points in 10 minutes are starkly contrasted to Yurtseven’s 14 points in 30 minutes.

It’s just a continuation of a great stretch for the freshman. The last five games Wahab has produced 38 points on 17-for-22 shooting in 54 minutes of action. In many games, he has outperformed Yurtseven. 

Ewing, however, is not ready to fully give faith in the four-star recruit in his first season. Defensively there are still some areas Ewing wants to see him improve. 

“He can score. He’s a very good scorer. He missed some easy shots tonight. I need him to score. I need him to rebound. I need him to defend.”

And he needs to defend without fouling. He’s third on the team in fouls despite being seventh in minutes. Ewing has willingly chosen to keep him off the court in favor of Yurtseven. But Wahab's own abilities have contributed to fewer minutes. 

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Georgetown stayed close with No. 15 Butler, but forgot to cover Sean McDermott

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Georgetown stayed close with No. 15 Butler, but forgot to cover Sean McDermott

WASHINGTON -- By no stretch of the imagination did Georgetown have a good game against the Butler Bulldogs on Tuesday evening. But in the final minute of regulation, the Hoyas found themselves in a closely contested ballgame with the chance to steal a home victory over a ranked opponent. 

The only issue is they forgot to cover sharpshooter Sean McDermott. They forgot about him quite often in a 69-64 loss to No. 15 Butler

Throughout an 18-1 run stretching from the end of the first half and into the second, the Hoyas somehow could not find No. 22 in black on the court. Slipping screens, rotating into corners and simply finding the open hole on the perimeter, McDermott continuously found ways to get open against the Hoyas defense. 

Entering the game, he was a 40% 3-point shooter. Georgetown knew he was going to be a threat. Yet, possession after possession he was left on an island in the corner of the court. He rarely missed. 

“He’s not the focal point of their team but tonight he played a great game,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said. “We knew that he was a very good shooter. Our goal was to keep him off the 3-point line and we didn’t do a good job of getting that.”

He scored 12 of Butler’s points during that run. Every basket during that stretch was from behind the arc. It erased a 14-point deficit for the Bulldogs and gave them control of the game.

As deadly as those threes were, though, it was McDermott’s last three that was the biggest. 

Somehow, after trailing by seven late in the second half, Georgetown had climbed back into the game. Entering the final minute, it was tied at 64 and the Hoyas appeared to have the momentum. The home crowd of 5,329 was on their feet and fully invested. 

Then McDermott did what he had done all game to that point: Slip away from a helping defender and knock down an open three. He faked to set up a pick-and-roll and read the Hoyas defense to perfection. Once again, he was left alone from behind the arc.

That was the final of McDermott’s 25 points on the night to lead all scorers. From the field, he was 9-for-12, and 7-for-10 from behind the arc. It was the second time this season he reached 25 points and the third time in his career he nailed seven 3-pointers. 

There’s no easier way to say it other than he torched Georgetown. 

The failure to close out on one of the best 3-point shooters in the Big East will haunt the Hoyas. Despite Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven’s 8-for-30 combined shooting effort, the Hoyas were in the game. They’ve never been in a game this season when neither of them were able to get going. 

Add in 12 forced turnovers in the first half and a nine-point lead, it was a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity that the 12-9 (2-6) Hoyas cannot afford to have anymore this season.

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